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Resolutions & Amendments

42nd International Convention - Las Vegas, NV (2016)

Paid Parental and Sick Leave

Resolution No. 31
42nd International Convention
Las Vegas Convention Center
July 18 - 22, 2016
Las Vegas, NV


Since the International Labor Organization adopted maternity leave in 1919, it laid the foundation for what we know as parental leave. Its original concept was to provide protection rights to the expectant mother, such as the right to cash, the right to medical benefits and most importantly, job security; and


The United States of America lags behind many other countries in its provision of time off for illness and to care for newborns and ill relatives. President Obama brought new attention to paid leave in 2015, when he pointed out in his State of the Union address that the U.S. is the only advanced economy that doesn't mandate paid sick or maternity leave for its workers. On the other hand, if we include less developed economies, the United States along with Lesotho, Liberia, Swaziland and Papua New Guinea are the only five countries in the world that do not offer any paid leave for new mothers, while most other countries mandate that employers provide paid time off for illness or maternity leave. Moreover, only a handful of states in the U.S. require employers to have temporary disability programs, which pay benefits if the pregnancy is defined as a disability by a doctor; and


The Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) provides up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave. However, this is only if the employer is a covered employer with 50 or more employees, and only when the employee is eligible to be part of the program. In fact, because paid maternity leave is not readily available from most employers (more than half of U.S. companies employ fewer than 50 people), women usually use a combination of short-term disability, sick leave, vacation and personal days in order to have some portion of their maternity leave paid. Almost one-third of women who reported taking maternity leave do not have any portion of their maternity leave paid; and


Today women bear children later in life, continue to work during the childbearing years and they make important financial contributions to the household; and


Offering adequate parental leave not only helps to avoid pushing family income into poverty levels, but also instills emotional stability between the new mom and baby. The lack of paid leave has numerous harmful consequences – fueling postpartum depression, causing mothers to give up breast-feeding early and forcing some families into debt or onto welfare. Reports from other nations show that parental leave entitlements are strongly correlated to emotionally stable children, 25% fewer postnatal deaths and stronger families; and


Parental leave increases better prenatal and postnatal care, creates more intense parental bonding over a child’s lifetime and lower accident rates in the first year of life. Parental leave policies also increase the likelihood that children will be immunized, resulting in lower death rates for infants (2005 report published by the National Partnership for Women and Families); and


Family and sick leave policy is not only necessary for working people but also makes business sense. An employer or company that offers paid parental leave or paid sick leave policies tends to attract and retain better and more dedicated employees. This results in higher productivity, increased career opportunities for women, higher incomes for women, decreased employee discrimination suits and a decrease in employee turnover. At the same time, paid sick leave policies benefit workers by allowing time for recovery and illness prevention, benefits the employer by making possible a fit and stable workforce and benefits the public by keeping a high quality of services; and


California and New Jersey have had in place paid parental leave measures since 2004 and 2009, respectively, with positive results reported by employers and employees. And President Obama has included $23 million in the latest budget to encourage the expansion of such initiatives; and


Only five states, Connecticut, California, Massachusetts, Oregon and Vermont, and 24 local jurisdictions have paid sick leave policies in place.


That AFSCME will promote and support policies toward establishing federally mandated paid parental and sick leave; and


That AFSCME will link and coalesce with advocacy and community organizations working in favor of establishing paid parental and sick leave policies; and


That AFSCME will lobby Congress, the White House and all local and state governments to establish policies for a balance between work and family, and to further initiatives for the creation of federally mandated paid parental and sick leave policies.


SUBMITTED BY: Juan Fernandez, President and Delegate

Egbert Isaacs, Delegate

Sheera S. Glass, Delegate

Thomas Orawiec, Delegate

Juliet White, Delegate

AFSCME Local 154, District Council 37

New York